New Orleans Saints select Marshon Lattimore in the first round of the NFL draft. Considered a prize in the 2014 recruiting class, Lattimore was expected to make an immediate impact in college, but hamstring injuries kept him on the sideline for most of his first two seasons. He was healthy for the 2016 season as a sophomore and earned a starting job, leading the Buckeyes in passes defended (13) and finishing second in interceptions (four).
Lattimore has speed with sudden movements and transitional quickness to match up with any type of receiver. He often runs better routes than the receiver he is covering. Often able to make up the distance with an initial false step. Can control his body to position himself in coverage. Has leaping ability to jump to a high point. Strong hands to snag interceptions. Mentally alert and plays with a self-assured confidence. Wrap-up hitter. Didn’t miss any of the 37 solo tackles he attempted in 2016. Despite physicality, still committed just two penalties all year. Uses his size well to get to passes to knock them away, helping him to six pass breakups from the 41 passes thrown into his coverage. Is on the smallish side–lacking ideal bulk and length. Can be out smarted by head or body fakes. Could be a better tackler in the run game. Chronic hamstring issues which have required surgery. However, Saints have meet with doctors on his medical issues and feel he has cleared these. Finally healthy for his redshirt sophomore campaign in 2016, he won a starting job and made the plays on the field that coaches hoped he would. The first-team All-Big Ten pick had four interceptions and nine pass breakups in his first full year with the team.
Lattimore is still developing as a result of his limited experience (only one true year of experience) and is also limited in his ability to anticipate. He is seen as a top half selection of the round one by all draft experts. Has been compared to Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants, because of his fluid athleticism and cover skills.
Pete Prisco’s Grade: A. “They stood pat and ended up with the best corner in the draft, who goes to a team that needs one in the worst way.” The Saints have desperate needs on defense, and what better way to address the secondary than with arguably the best cornerback in the draft. Marshon Lattimore had a fantatsic 2016 season, and followed that up with a just-as-impressive combine performance that saw him blaze a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and an 11-foot broad jump. He’s a legit shutdown corner whose only drawback appears to be his injury history. If Lattimore can put his hamstring issues behind him, he could dominate in a secondary that ranked 30th in the league last season, according to Football Outsiders. Janoris Jenkins-plus: A mix between Janoris Jenkins and Vontae Davis but with the physical skills to be better than both players.
Quote from NFL.com analysis: “I’ve studied the top cornerbacks coming out and he’s the best I’ve seen. He’s so athletic that he can just post up under the receiver’s chin and shadow him all over the field. And he’s tough, too. He’ll be one of the top cornerbacks pretty quickly.” — Pro personnel director for AFC team NFL COMPARISON. Vontae Davis
Quote from CBS.com analysis: Average-sized, one-year starter with explosive athleticism and a loaded tool box. He has the feet, hips and agility to be a lockdown cornerback and the ball skills to make teams pay for looking in his direction. His lack of experience could show up early, but he has the confidence and competitive nature that should help him overcome those issues. He has the ability to become a Pro Bowl cornerback early in his career.-Lance Zierlein